Kerala activist Rehana Fathima's request for protection from arrest over a controversial video of her children painting on her semi-nude body was rejected by the Supreme Court today.
Calling it an act of "spreading obscenity", the Supreme Court said: "Why do you do all this? You might be an activist (but) what kind of nonsense is this? It is obscenity you are spreading. It will leave a very bad taste in society".
The three-member bench led by Justice Arun Mishra also questioned: "What impression will growing children get from this act?"
Rehana Fatima was charged with under the POCSO (Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences) and IT (Information Technology) Act after a video emerged of her minor children - a 14-year-old-boy and eight-year-old girl painting on her semi-nude body.
In her plea Ms Fathima said she had "intended to normalise the female form for her children and not allow distorted ideas of sexualisation to pervade their minds".
The activist, who made headlines for an attempt to enter Sabrimala temple in September 2018 (after the Supreme Court allowed women from traditionally-barred age groups of 10-50 to enter), approached the Supreme Court after the Kerala High Court denied her anticipatory bail.
She had argued that the case against her violated her fundamental rights to life, liberty and dignity.
In the petition filed before the top court on Monday, she also pointed out that she had fully co-operated in the investigation and her conduct had been exceptional.
"Goddesses in Kerala are frequently depicted in idols and murals with bare breasts. When one prays at the temple the feeling is not of sexual arousal but one of divinity," Ms Fathima, in her plea before the top court, had said.
"(Does) female nudity (even when not visible) per se constitutes obscenity? (Can) children painting on their mother's body can be concluded to be "sexual gratification" and "child abuse" under these stringent laws?" she asked.
The Kerala High Court refused to grant bail, observing that the video amounted to an obscene representation of children for the purposes of "sexual gratification" and attracted offences under POCSO and IT acts.
Ms Fathima had raised questions of law relating to application of POCSO and IT acts in framing charges against her, arguing that nudity, per se, cannot be treated as obscenity.
In her bail plea before the High Court, the activist said the allegations, prima facie, would not constitute any punishable offences that are non-bailable in nature.
Rehana Fathima sought anticipatory bail a day after a search was carried out at her residence in Kochi and her mobile phone and laptop were seized.
With input from ANI, PTI